Australian Health Review Australian Health Review Society
Journal of the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Walan Girri: developing a culturally mediated case management model for problematic alcohol use among urban Indigenous people

Ray Lovett A B E , Phyll Dance A , Jill Guthrie A C , Roxie Brown D and Julie Tongs D

A National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, The Australian National University, ACT 0200, Australia. Email: phyll.dance@anu.edu.au

B Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, 51 Lawson Crescent, ACT 2601, Australia.

C National Centre for Indigenous Studies, The Australian National University, ACT 0200, Australia. Email: jill.guthrie@anu.edu.au

D Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service, 63 Boolimba Crescent, Narrabundah ACT 2604, Australia. Email: Julie.Tongs@Winnunga.org.au, Roxie.Brown@Winnunga.org.au

E Corresponding author. Email: ray.lovett@aiatsis.gov.au

Australian Health Review 38(4) 440-446 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/AH13148
Submitted: 13 August 2013  Accepted: 5 March 2014   Published: 8 July 2014

Abstract

Objective To describe the design and implementation of a culturally mediated case management model at Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service (Winnunga) for Indigenous clients who consume alcohol at problematic levels.

Methods Our research took place from March 2008 to March 2010 in the Australian Capital Territory and built on previous research partnerships between Winnunga and The Australian National University’s National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health. We conducted a review of existing models to determine elements for consideration in the community controlled setting, and conducted staff surveys to assess current levels of skill and confidence around alcohol screening, brief intervention and care planning. Using the information from the review and staff surveys, we then undertook staff capacity building to build confidence and skills in conducting alcohol screening, brief intervention and care planning. This process was driven by Winnunga’s social health team. To meet Medicare benefits schedule requirements, and frame the study within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Chronic Disease Package framework, we included team care arrangements, care planning and health checks.

Results Elements of case management were suggested by staff and incorporated into the final model. Forty staff in the health service participated in identifying training needs for the development of the case management model and undertook a range of training before the model was implemented. Staff working within the social health team decided that the focus of the case management was to build a stronger future for their clients, hence the name of the case management model ‘Walan Girri’ (Wiradjuri language for strong future). The model included a package of screening instruments and brief intervention, related polices and discussion of ‘mob’ and ‘country.’ Changes in Winnunga management and staff, the composition of the research team and the way Walan Girri evolved led to protracted development and implementation.

Conclusions This project highlights considerations for implementing a case management model in a dynamic health service environment. Capacity building for Winnunga staff and for an Indigenous PhD scholar were part of the process and were integral in maintaining momentum in the project.

What is known about the topic? Case management for chronic disease and other health conditions is currently recommended in assisting to resolve those issues. Case management aims to involve a range of healthcare practitioners (general practitioners, nurses and Aboriginal health workers) and providers in conjunction with the client to improve their health status. Currently, there is limited description of how case management models are used within the Aboriginal community controlled context.

What does this paper add? This paper adds to the knowledge base in this field by describing the results of a method of case management driven by the community controlled health sector. It also introduces a simple approach that may be useful in a range of contexts in the health setting in building trust and rapport with clients, while engaging the healthcare practitioner in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural contexts of relationships to country and family (mob).

What are the implications for practitioners? The implication may be that healthcare practitioners working in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Services adopt Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural protocols, such as talking with clients about ‘mob’ and ‘country’, to build trust and rapport.


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